Family remembers CT man killed in West Bank attack
Family members of Elan Ganeles, a 27-year-old West Hartford resident fatally shot while driving on a West Bank highway, gathered in West Hartford Thursday to remember his life.
“I was very lucky to spend the last week with him,” Elan’s brother Gabe Ganeles said at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. “We went to the north part of Israel for a tour. We went to museums, historical sites, hikes, beautiful things that Elan found out and wanted to see.”
Ganeles’ death came during one of the worst rounds of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years, with more than 60 Palestinians and 14 Israelis killed this year. Earlier this week, after two Israelis were killed in the West Bank, an Israeli settler mob set homes and cars ablaze in a Palestinian town, burning dozens of cars and homes and leaving one man dead.
On Wednesday, Israeli troops arrested three Palestinians suspected of involvement in the killing of Ganeles. A fourth was shot and killed fleeing the scene of a daylight raid in a West Bank refugee camp, the military said. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that three Palestinians were also wounded in the raid in the Aqabat Jaber camp.
Friends said Ganeles was visiting Israel for a friend’s wedding.
Ganeles grew up in West Hartford, served in the Israel Defense Forces and returned to the U.S. to attend Columbia University. His parents said he loved learning, traveling and discussing current events, politics and religion.
Elan’s brother Simon Ganeles said his brother was never afraid to travel to Israel.
“He volunteered to help out the Jewish family services next door,” Simon Ganeles said. “Beyond college, he volunteered his time as well. He volunteered to help immigrants; whether there was a language barrier, he helped them manage the American bureaucracy.”
The Jewish Federations of North America said it was devastated. “A recent college graduate, Elan had a bright future ahead of him. Our hearts go out to his family and to the West Hartford community and we cry together with them. May Elan’s memory be for a blessing,” it said in a statement.
The bloodshed surrounding Ganeles’ death is part of a year of escalating violence triggered by Israeli raids on Palestinian areas of the West Bank that were prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
Tensions have surged in the West Bank, especially after the settler attack on the Palestinian town of Hawara, which sparked international condemnation as well as rebuke from Israel’s political opposition. But the country’s right-wing government, made up of ultranationalist, pro-settler parties, has not condemned the violence, only appealing to settlers not to take the law into their own hands.
So far this year, 62 Palestinians, about half of them affiliated with armed groups, have been killed by Israeli troops and civilians. In the same period, 14 Israelis, all but one of them civilians, have been killed in Palestinian attacks.
Israel says its raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and prevent future attacks, but there has been little evidence that they are slowing the violence. The Palestinians view them as further entrenchment of Israel’s 55-year open-ended occupation.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war, territories the Palestinians claim for their hoped-for state.
Connecticut Public's Patrick Skahill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.